That time we went on a road trip around New Zealand … in a campervan
“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” — J.R.R. Tolkien
In a van on the road …
… there lived two hobbits. Okay, maybe we aren’t real hobbits, but Sean and I were small enough to stay in a small van for two weeks while we travelled across New Zealand and not kill each other. Now there’s an achievement.
It started with a map. A badly-proportioned, ill-drawn map created in Paint, but a map nonetheless. Actually, it started many, many years before that, when Sean was born and it turned out he was a nerd. Big time. As in, knock three times and leave him at the library; he’ll find his way home.
We’re going on an adventure!
Towards the end of 2017, Sean and I had had enough of adulting. He booked the plane, I found a Spaceship campervan, and together we created the perfect itinerary.
Our van had everything: a kettle, cups, spoons, a pot, forks, petrol, pillows, blankets. Wow. We were so lucky. At night, we put down the back seats and created our bed out of a wooden plank and a mattress. Every morning, we woke up and I made peanut butter and jam sandwiches while Sean boiled the kettle for tea. Thanks to my in-laws, who treated us to Airbnb for the first few nights, we had a massive ham that we steadily ate throughout the two weeks. I mean, we made ham sandwiches, ham salad, ham pasta, ham soup, ham sandwiches again. It just never ended. Ham for days, is what it was.
We spent the first few nights in Auckland with the in-laws, who showed us a rad time. We went zip-lining, hiking, and bumming around Auckland till the cows came home. Then, they went back to Australia for the next part of their holiday, and we went on the open road.
(Actually, the roads in New Zealand are quite narrow. Seriously, would it kill you guys to get more lanes? You can borrow Sanrail, if you want.)
Day 1: From Auckland to Opononi
On our first van day, we drove from Auckland to Opononi where we spent the night at the Okopako Lodge. We parked right next to a meadow, and that night we made delicious salad and drank godawful wine. We snuggled up against the cold and soon we were fast asleep. The next morning, we woke up as the sun started to rise and the sheep started to bleat. It was perhaps one of the most beautiful mornings of my nearly thirty years of life.
People had warned us that December would be super busy in New Zealand, but clearly they’ve never been to South Africa. The roads were narrow and winding but for the most part quite empty, and the days were filled with quietude and wonder.
Little did we know the real adventure was still to come.
Stay tuned for part 2, because I’m too tired to keep writing and I need to drive to Fourways in the morning. In the meantime, here’s a link to more of my travel writing!